1983 Daytona 200 Add Video

One of the most notable things about the 1983 Daytona 200--besides the fact that it was an exciting race--was that something that was supposed to happen, didn't. Leading up to the race, speculation was running rampant that 1983 would be Kenny Roberts' final D200. In fact, during the telecast of the race--with announcer Dave Despain and former 200 winner Dale Singleton handling color commentary--the pair made several references to Roberts' imminent retirement from the 200. Even Roberts himself, interviewed on camera and shown in a pre-recorded clip during the race, intimated that 1983 would be his last race around the High Banks. The 1983 Daytona 200 grid was filled with some of the biggest names in racing--from Roberts, to teammate Eddie Lawson, to Honda riders Freddie Spencer and Ron Haslam, to Fred Merkel and Wes Cooley. Yamaha had pulled out all the stops for the race. They were on a Daytona 200 winning streak, and they weren't about to let that streak end. Both Roberts and Lawson rode what appeared to be 1983 YZR500 OW70 Grand Prix bikes painted in the bumblebee livery that was de rigeur for Yamaha during that era. But, concealed beneath the fairings of both bikes was not the 500cc 2-stroke V-4 that Yamaha had debuted in GP racing the year before. Instead, Yamaha U.S. had opted for special Daytona-only 640cc 2-stroke square-4 engines. The engines started out as 500cc powerplants, but they were bored out to the max, a move that you'd think would affect engine durability. But it didn't. Both Yamahas ran the full 200-mile distance, while Spencer's and Haslam's Hondas DNF with engine troubles. It's interesting to hear today's riders complain about the preponderance of backmarkers who get in their way and affect their lap times and race outcomes. Pay attention to the backmarkers that Roberts and Lawson had to deal with in 1983. The speed differential between their Yamahas and the calamitous collection of four-stroke UJM streetbikes also on track is difficult to fathom. No blue flags in those days, just Roberts' and Lawson's screaming yellow zonkers weaving their way through the pack. Kenny Roberts won the 1983 Daytona 200. That, he did. But, it wasn't his last race at the World Center of Speed, despite what everyone predicted. That, it wasn't. In fact, Kenny returned for the 1984 Daytona 200. And he won that race, too.

Posted by steve bailey on May 10, 2013 at 4:14 AM 6535 Views

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